The advent of Twenty Ten (2010) fetched 47 crore rupees for TASMAC shops in Tamil Nadu. Chennai topped the list with 7 Crores. Since Beer was shortage, Brandy and Whisky were bought by the revelers of the New Year.
And most important, 60-70% of the new year revelry was by the Youth, the future of this country. In my own neighborhood New Year was celebrated with huge amount of inebriation by Teenagers, who otherwise are well below the drinking age limit.
Alcohol was sold at a premium in many places beyond the prescribed time-limits. Police found it difficult to control the lines before TASMAC shops.
Several youth gangs smashed cars and vehicles parked in the streets. Many number of drunken driving accidents happened all over the state.
On the whole sales of alcohol on the newyear eve increased by 10% this year, in Tamil Nadu, according to several news reports that I read.
In my own neighborhood, which is actually a slum-lane in the middle of the street, teenage Vijay Fans held noisy celebrations on the eve of New Year all throughout the night. Flowing alcohol increased the energetic sound of shouting youth, not allowing anyone to sleep including the elderly, diseased and kids.
I found increasing number of working men and women indulging in drinking compared to past year. Even those with kids, left behind their kids at home to new year eve parties and drank merrily.
In short, New Year has become the reason for mass drinking by youth, teenagers below the age-limit for drinking, binge-drinking by several men and women.
In fact I knew of so many teenagers, who got initiated into drinking because of this New Eve year party. The simple reason is that the controls on them got less and it didn’t look like a big issue today, when everybody around were drinking.
Yes. There is nothing wrong to welcome new year. In India we have new years probably all throughout the year. English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and what not..? But this fervor of celebrating English New year with binge drinking has caught up in the city and even the countryside.
While I am no Ram Muthalik or Mullah Mubarak that calls for shutting out all the pubs and bars, I am deeply concerned at the state of our youngsters and future of our society.
If we deeply look at what culture is, it is nothing but learning of people over several generations, institutionalized into practice.
But I am no fundamentalist on that aspect. The reason is we cannot stop with cultural learnings of past and stick to those practices alone. We need to learn continuously and adopt our changing times and environment into our culture, making our culture to evolve over time. This means that we cannot force practices of hundreds of years back onto newer generations, in the name of culture.
Does that mean we accept drinking as part of our new culture..?
Most Asiatic cultures abhor drinking. They abhor even social drinking. In India lower castes engage in social drinking during festivals. During other times, it is abhorred. But most people, in particular high-castes, landowners and professionals of lower-caste, used to abhor arrack in any form at any time. For them arrack is strictly prohibited.
I am not sure most of us understand why. Here is the reason.
Most Asiatic people have Fatty Liver condition on birth, which fattens up further due to the food-habits as well as living habits (little exercises, little hard-work due to easier living environments) of these people.
Asiatic people are genetically pre-disposed against liquor. For such people even small amounts of liquor could cause huge damage, as they grow old. And if they beget children, they will be passing on their defects they have accrued to their kids genetically. Such genetic defects express themselves in subsequent generations, if not the in the immediate generations.
In most western environments, difficult and harsh living conditions imposed hard-work and burning up of fat, on people. The conditions of fatty liver is not as prevalent in those societies. May be there are several reasons to this. But it is well known, proven fact that Asians and Indians have fatty livers compared to westerners and are prone to liver diseases.
Compared to rice and wheat, meat-eating populations of the West have a different physical make-up and genetic evolutions in terms of defects and diseases. Their issues are different compared to issues of asiatic cultures and peoples.
Also, culturally in Asia more means good. Less means bad, in any aspect of life.
Asians and in particular Indians, are very poor in controlling their urges. In fact the way we serve our guests is to make them eat more. In every aspect of life, abundance is defined as wealth, in our terms. There is a high probability in Asiatic people, once they start drinking, will drink more than their western counterparts, as they don’t know where to stop.
With all these in the background, asiatic cultures prohibited drinking, as even small amounts of liquor can lead and spread societal disasters.
That’s why most high-caste, land-owning/professional lower-caste people never touched arrack. They were told that it would spoil them and their future. It became a sin in their culture. The lower-castes who toiled hard consumed arrack as social drinking in different festivals. This was not a problem, as they were hard-working and had better tolerance, but even for them liquor was an exception and not a rule.
Thus the Indian culture has worked as a barrier to prevent rampant alcoholism. It also helped evolve disease-free generations as alcohol was kept out of the purview of average people.
In western societies, where living conditions are difficult, fatty liver is not a people issue. In fact small amounts of wine helps in easing blood vessels and turns out good for the heart for beef-eating, pork-eating people. Hence wine-drinking used to be practiced widely in those cultures. We cannot ape that in India.
What is good in low quantities for heart, in the western cultures, is not good even in that low quantities for liver for the kind of living conditions, Indians have.
There is no scientific research or studies in India about liquor and its effects on Indian populations and its genetic defects. Whatever statistical studies are done, they are being done in the west and for western demography. It is not applicable to India and its population.
There is a need to rely on our cultural understandings with respect to liquor, in the absence of a strong scientific evidence in contrary to our societal beliefs, though we should not and need not stick to all age old cultural beliefs in general.
With the coming down of cultural barriers, there is a need for scientific awareness to step in, fill the gap and prevent the physiological degradation of Indian society due to alcohol.
This article of mine is not about culture or aping of culture. Culture is continuous learning that has been institutionalized for welfare of people. So any cultural habit that does not change would cause more harm than good. When we write about culture or aping of culture, it has to be specific to cultural habits and not a generic smoke-screen called culture.
This article of mine is about the emergence of liquor non-sense during the new-year as a social must amongst the people, in particular its youth and even the under-aged. For many, it is not an isolated event. It is a serial killer that silently starts during the new year, whose real effects are known late in life or after several generations.
There is a strong need for the educated, intelligentsia, religious, social and political leaders of this country to realize this liquor menace.
These leaders should NOT look at it as a cultural or moral issue and leave it to fundamentalists to handle it. By the time we realize its ill-effects, we might have travelled too far and not able to course-correct.
I hope and pray that the Indian youth are weaned away from alcohol to save this nation of thousands of years of heritage from destruction.